How to add users to your Apple TV and easily switch between multiple accounts

Apple TV multiple accounts

With multi-user support, your Apple TV can be personalized by each family member.

Before tvOS 13, Apple TV owners were allowed to add multiple Apple ID accounts with Family Sharing support for App Store purchases, as well as switch between them in Settings. On the flip side, switching between multiple accounts doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on each person’s data, settings or personalized recommendations.

Multi-account support in tvOS 13 goes a bit further than that. While it also works with Family Sharing — if you have children, they’ll be able to switch to their own account to purchase apps via an Ask to Buy prompt like on iPhone and iPad—tvOS 13’s support for multiple Apple ID accounts also gives each registered user on the device their own:

  • Up Next list
  • Media libraries like music and movies
  • Personalized recommendations in the TV app
  • Additional content in other apps
  • New purchases

In a nutshell, registering multiple user accounts on the device allows each person to enjoy their own settings and content in apps. And for you as an Apple TV owner, that means the handy ability to easily switch between multiple accounts to watch movies and TV shows that have been purchased by different members of the family.

The feature does not automatically change which apps appear on the Home screen.

Apple TV multiple accounts

To make account switching as streamlined as possible, the tvOS 13 update brings out a rudimentary Control Center that swooshes in with a press of a Siri Remote button, containing quick options like the AirPlay controls, user accounts, sleep and more.

These new features were first previewed and released for developer testing during the June 3 WWDC 2019 keynote ahead of commercial release in Fall 2019.

Follow along with us to learn how to have multiple people use a single Apple TV.

How to set up multiple accounts on Apple TV

Before you can switch between accounts, you must first register them with the system. Your own Apple ID account was entered during the tvOS setup process so there’s no need to retype your credentials. What you’ll want to do is add as many other Apple IDs as you need.

Follow the steps below to add multiple Apple ID accounts in tvOS 13.

1) Open Settings on your Apple TV running tvOS 13 or newer.

2) Choose Users & Accounts from the main list.

3) Click Add New User underneath the Users heading.

Apple TV multiple accounts

4) Enter an additional user’s Apple ID user name and password when prompted.

Apple TV multiple accounts

If you typed your credentials correctly, the new account will be set as the current user of this Apple TV and you’ll be taken to the previous screen. Repeat the process from step 3 to add as many Apple ID accounts to this Apple TV as you want.

How to delete user accounts from Apple TV

To delete a user account from your Apple TV, do the following:

1) Open Settings on your Apple TV running tvOS 13 or newer.

2) Choose Users & Accounts from the main list.

3) Choose the option Current User underneath the Users heading.

4) Choose the user account you’d like to delete from this Apple TV

5) Back to the previous screen, click your account listed underneath the Users section.

6) Choose the option at the bottom labeled with the text Remover User From Apple TV.

Apple TV multiple accounts

7) Finally, confirm the operation by clicking the option Remove User.

Apple TV multiple accounts

The selected user will be signed out and tvOS will remove their Up Next list along with any TV shows, movies and personalized recommendations they may have on this Apple TV.

Multi-user support and Apple TV storage

Keep in mind that multi-account support in tvOS 13 may strain your Apple TV storage.

tvOS features a pretty aggressive caching mechanism that was designed to utilizes as much flash storage as possible. Start watching a movie in iTunes, for instance, and tvOS will download the whole thing in the background. The same goes for streaming entertainment in apps like HBO NOW or Stars, games that download additional content and so forth. This happens for all user accounts automatically. tvOS will automatically cache the movie you started watching, but if your son switches to his account shortly after to enjoy his favorite cartoon, tvOS will cache the videos he’s watching, too.

tvOS lacks any options to adjust these built-in caching capabilities so don’t be surprised if a game you played the other night suddenly starts re-downloading the current level.

Switching between multiple Apple TV accounts

You can switch between multiple Apple IDs on your Apple TV by venturing into the Settings app. From there, feel free to waste your time clicking through the sub-menus. Or, be smarter and use tvOS 13’s all-new Control Center that includes options for fast account switching.

We’ll cover both so don’t stop reading now…

Using the Settings app

To switch accounts in the Settings app, do the following:

1) Open Settings on your Apple TV running tvOS 13 or newer.

2) Choose Users & Accounts from the main list.

3) Choose the option Current User underneath the Users heading.

Apple TV multiple accounts

4) Click the account you’d like to switch to that was perviously register on this Apple TV.

Apple TV multiple accounts

The current user account will be signed out. Their Up Next list, TV shows, movies and personalized recommendations will be removed from this Apple TV. The account you just switched to will be made the current account on this Apple TV until you switch to another one.

From now on, the set-top box will display the video and music libraries for this user and this account will also be used by the system fo Up Next recommendations and new purchases.

Using the new Control Center

To switch accounts via tvOS 13’s new Control Center, do the following:

1) Press and hold the Home button on your Siri Remote until the Control Center overlay swooshes into view from the right edge of the screen.

2) Profile images of all the user accounts registered with this Apple TV can be found listed near the top, between the current date/time and the Sleep shortcut. The current user account has a checkmark next to its name. Highlight a desired user account and click the remote.

Apple TV multiple accounts

And that’s how you switch between multiple users on Apple TV using Control Center.

Purchases and subscriptions

As mentioned before, switching to a different user account on your Apple TV will also use their Apple ID credentials for new App Store purchases and subscriptions. You can manage related features in Settings → Users & Accounts, then click your account in the Users section.

Apple TV multiple accounts

There, feel free to adjust the following account features:

  • Apple IDs
    • Store: View the Apple ID account used for new purchases and media libraries.
  • Require Password:
    • Purchases: Tell Apple TV when to ask for your Apple ID password for purchases: Always, After 15 Minutes or Never.
    • Free Downloads: Controls whether the set-top box will ask for your Apple ID password when downloading free stuff.
  • Manage
    • Edit User Name: Change the name associated with the user on this Apple TV.
    • Subscriptions: See all the subscriptions associated with this Apple ID account.
    • See how your data is managed: Pull up Apple’s privacy explainer.
    • Remove User from Apple TV: Signs out this Apple ID account, which also removes their related movies, TV shows, the Up Next list and personalized recommendations in the TV app.

Additional account controls from tvOS 12 and prior editions are present in tvOS 13.

Other account settings

Underneath the Apple TV Accounts heading in Settings → Users & Accounts are these controls:

  • iCloud: You can optionally use a different account for iCloud. Apple TV uses an iCloud account to pull settings for HomeKit, stream your media from iCloud Photos and save data in apps that support iCloudKit, like your progress in some games.
    • One Home Screen: Set to ON to have the same appearance and Home screen apps across all Apple TVs signed in using this iCloud account.
    • iCloud Photos: Turn on this feature if you’d like to view photos and videos from your other iCloud Photos devices, right on this Apple TV. You can even set these photos and videos as your Apple TV screen saver.
    • Shared Albums: See the photos and videos you shared with friends and family, plus any media and comments they’ve added to your shared albums.
    • Photo Stream: See the media in your Photo Stream.
  • Game Center: Use an account for Game Center different from the currently selected Apple ID account. Your Apple TV will use this account to access Game Center features in titles that support them, including leaderboards and achievements.
    • Nearby Players: Choose whether nearby Game Center players are permitted to find and invite you to multiplayer games.
  • Home Sharing: Use a different account for Home Sharing to view photos from Macs and stream content to this Apple TV from iTunes computers on your network.
    • Turn Off Home Sharing: With Home Sharing turned off, you’ll no longer see all media libraries associated with the account you specify.

Separating accounts for iCloud, Game Center and Home Sharing features from your Apple ID lets everyone customize multi-user support to their liking. For instance, you may want to use different accounts for iCloud and Game Center so that you and kids can each have their own progress, leaderboards and achievements in games.

All the new Apple TV features in tvOS 13

tvOS 13 packs in the following features and enhancements:

  • Refined Home screen: The Home screen has received visual refinements and can now play full-screen video previews from media apps and games in the background.
  • Underwater screen saver: tvOS 13 includes a stunning new 4K HDR underwater screen saver, filmed in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, showing mesmerizing creatures and immersive scenes from the depths of oceans around the world.
  • Multi-user support: The new Control Center includes quick-access toggles to features like system sleep, audio routing and account switching, which gets everyone their own personalized entertainment experience—each user account sees their unique Up Next list and receives TV and movie recommendations in the TV app based on their tastes.
  • Apple Music: With multi-user support, the Music app lets everyone enjoy their own personalized playlists and recommendations. As a nice bonus, you can quickly access the currently playing song in the new Control Center. As a bonus, onscreen lyrics timed in sync with songs are now available in the Music app for the first time.
  • Apple Arcade: Launching in Fall 2019, Apple Arcade will let a family of six play 100+ premium ad-free games with no in-app purchases whatsoever across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV with a single monthly subscription.
  • Xbox and PlayStation controllers: tvOS 13 adds support for Microsoft’s Xbox controller and Sony’s DualShock 4 wireless Bluetooth controller. These accessories will automatically work with App Store games that support MFi controllers. Many of the games included in Apple Arcade will offer support for game controllers.

And of course, tvOS 13 packs in Apple’s much-improved TV app with subscription channels like Starz and HBO NOW, Siri-powered personalized recommendations, 100,000+ iTunes movies and TV shows, picture-in-picture support and a few other perks. As for Apple TV+, the company’s original video subscription service, it will be available in the TV app this fall.

Apple TV multiple accounts
tvOS 13 also brought picture-in-picture support to Apple TV

The app is also available on other Apple devices and—as if that weren’t enough—on select third-party platforms including new Smart TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Vizio, LG, etc.

tvOS 13 compatibility

tvOS 13 is compatible with these Apple set-top boxes:

  • Apple TV HD
  • Apple TV 4K

For additional details about the tvOS 13 update, read Apple’s press release.

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